Yellow Curry of Roast Pumpkin with Grilled Tofu and Cherry Tomatoes

yellow curry

There’s a lot to love about Benjamin Cooper – his crazy mohawk, the Melbourne (and soon to be Sydney) food institution that is Chin Chin and the beautiful cookbook of very accurate recipes that taste just like the restaurant. He has a lot to be proud of, that’s for sure, but the man himself is a humble, softly-spoken family man, generous with his knowledge and keen to share his passion for food. I remember sitting with him in the MasterChef waiting room, and I jokingly asked, “You run one of the most successful restaurants in town, it’s impossible to get a seating, everyone already knows and respects you, why can’t you just let me win this one?”

He said simply, “But I’m doing this for my kids.” And then he laughed. A burst of big, hearty laughter from the belly that just made me laugh along with him. Benjamin didn’t need to be here – he wasn’t after fame, or publicity for the many restaurants that he is now executive chef of. It seems silly but in that moment I understood how ridiculous what it was that I was doing. Cooking against a professional chef, someone who has cooked for upwards of 60 hours a week, for the past fifteen years. Not just any professional but one of the country’s best – and for an immunity pin.  Of course I wanted immunity, but in that moment, I understood that a pin is just a pin and MasterChef is TV. Family trumps all that. At the end of the day, we all kind of want the same thing – for our family to be proud of us. …

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Benjamin Cooper’s Yellow Curry Paste

yellow curry paste

What’s the first thing you do when you’re all settled in your new home – take a bath, watch some TV, start googling styling tips? For me it’s restocking the fridge. 57 days out of our old place and now that we’re in a completely new country – the fridge takes top priority. Sourdough starters to be fed. Master stocks need to be started from scratch. Curry pastes need to be made and frozen.

If you’ve never made your own curry pastes before, don’t be dissuaded. Taste aside, it’s much easier and less time consuming than you might think. But don’t take it from me, here are some words from the book –

“If you’ve got the time and inclination, it’s well worth having a go, and each recipe produces enough for a few curries. Once you’ve made it, you can store a curry paste in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple of weeks or freeze them in portion sizes. That said, commercial curry pastes these days are good and it’s completely understandable why you’d turn to them. 

Once you’ve tasted the difference though, you might never want to go back and you’ll want to convert your friends as well.”

That’s it. I do want to convert you….

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My tips for making perfect scones

buttermilk-scones-2Fluffy, buttery and warm from the oven, scones seem to be one my mum’s favourite things. So when I extended my stay in KL (topped off by the fact I was restless from not having cooked anything for weeks) Mum invited some of her friends over for some morning tea. I guess you could call it a mutually beneficial agreement – they wanted to eat and I needed to cook, after all, it’s been months since I’ve cooked, baked or otherwise made anything from scratch. Can you tell I’m getting restless? We’ve only been in temporary accommodation in Sri Lanka with an awful kitchen for I don’t know… fifty three whole days.

But let’s not get distracted. I’m here to tell you all about scones. The kind that are slightly crisp on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside. Not too biscuity, and not too cakey either. They should be good enough to eat on their own, though of course they’d be even better topped with jam and cream. Or if you’re like Mum, butter AND jam and cream. …

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